These strange and tragic times have sadly continued during a month that has seen oil prices fall to a negative position (see Argus Media column page 8) and the PRA’s chairman Brian Madderson face down "sickening" charges of profiteering levelled at fuel retailers (see News page 5).
On the positive side we have seen the resilience of the downstream oil sector, where, as UKPIA’s director general Stephen Marcos Jones says, despite the challenges, key workers at refineries, terminals, pipelines, tanker depots and filling stations have kept the fuel supply running (read his column on page 7).
There have been countless examples of fuel retailers stepping up to the plate and adapting their businesses to suit the current situation for example by offering home deliveries; sourcing new local supplies; and in the case of Sewell on the go, setting up fruit and vegetable stalls within a matter of hours (see News Extra, page 10).
No wonder fewer sites have temporarily closed than might have been expected, according to Brian Madderson (see Industry Insight, page 20). With traffic volumes having fallen by nearly 60% at one stage, and fuel volumes down to around 70% of normal demand with some sites touching just 90%, forecourt retailers have had to use their entrepreneurial skills in spades, and have dug deep to keep their businesses going. The government’s financial measures have certainly helped with some of the bigger groups potentially saving millions of pounds through the business rates holiday. Madderson also has praise for the flexibility oil companies are showing dealers.
At Forecourt Trader we have also introduced a new service please welcome our new ’Legal Doctor’, (page 15) columnist Robert Botkai who will draw on his expertise and that of his colleagues at Winckworth Sherwood to look at the potential issues and possible solutions to where we land in the ’new normal’. Please send in your queries.
We are also launching our Forecourt Trader Awards 2020 (see page 26). In these challenging times it’s even more important we recognise and reward the amazing work that goes on within our industry.